Washington Post reports that CMS has issued a new rule requiring hospice providers participating in Medicare to implement a quality assessment and improvement system. The rule, set to take effect in December, mandates that hospices allow patients to help decide on treatment plans and demonstrate improvement in areas where they are found deficient. The data initially would be available to hospice organizations and Medicare, but providers and experts believe the data eventually will be shared with the public, similar to the way the federal government shares data on nursing homes, hospitals and home health agencies.
Approximately 1.3 million U.S. residents received hospice services in 2006, more than twice as many as in 1996, reports KaiserNetwork. Medicare spent about $10 billion on hospice care — which it provides to beneficiaries at no cost — in 2007, compared with about $3 billion in 2000.